So you’re thinking of becoming a civil engineer? Do you know what you’re in for?
I’m not trying to scare you off. I want you to be prepared. Along the way, you have to make the difficult decision of choosing a specific field or specialty.
The good news is many different types of people find their niches because civil engineers are used in many fields. The challenge is you have to align your decisions now, with where you want to end up one day.
Which of these will you pick?
Different Career Levels
If you don’t want to stagnate, this is a smart career option. There are many civil engineering job options to motivate you to become your best. But you’ll start at the bottom.
With a degree, you can start your career by working under the supervision of more senior figures. You’ll find options in the public and private sector, usually as part of construction projects. This can be on buildings, roads or even utility infrastructures.
In these environments you get to know the requirements of the position, so you’re prepared for future opportunities.
With additional licensing and experience you can become a senior engineer. In this role, you’ll have teams to manage and carry more responsibilities, such as signing off on site plans.
One further step is to invest in studies to become a chartered or incorporated engineer.
Where will you use your knowledge and skills? These are the civil engineering jobs you can look forward to.
Different Jobs in Civil Engineering
Everywhere you look, you see the results of civil engineers’ impact: roads, buildings, communication structures and more. One day, you may look at your own handiwork after playing one of these roles.
Consulting or Design Engineer
These are the engineers who kick-start projects. Understand what the company or client wants and design a plan to make it happen.
If a new building or road must be built it all starts with analysis. You’ll look at the site, determine environmental impact and start designing the construction.
But it’s not only technical. You’re also responsible for tenders, budgets and reports. And don’t forget the permits necessary to start construction.
If the project is viable the plans need to be put together. Detailed drawings are done with the help of CAD (Computer Aided Design). You may even build physical 3D models to display to clients.
Your job as a civil engineer may extend to organizing what happens on the building site, though this may be taken over by a contracting civil engineer (see below). But throughout the project, you must monitor if everything goes according to plan.
The applications are vast. You can use this approach in chemical, civil or electrical engineering and even software & industrial design.
Contracting Civil Engineer
Someone has to take the lead on a construction site. As a contracting civil engineer, this will be your task. You take the plan you—or another engineer—put together and then use resources to make it a reality.
You must manage both people and resources such as building materials. And everything on site is your responsibility:
-Keep to the budget
-Do quality checks
You can see this work will mostly be done on site and not from an office. Will you enjoy being part of the action?
Building Control Surveyor
In this role you’ll look at buildings before and after construction:
-You evaluate plans to ensure a new building will meet regulations
-Existing buildings are inspected to determine their safety
Your concerns will usually be regarding foundations, accessibility, and sustainability. If you identify problems, you’ll help find solutions.
An interesting angle is helping to keep historical buildings in working order. If demolitions are done or repairs carried out, you’ll have to monitor and certify the work after completion.
Here’s a jump into the future. Your civil engineering skills can be used to use nuclear energy for the benefit of society:
-You can find new ways to apply the science and technology
-You’ll ensure current facilities—such as power stations—are safe to use
-Some facilities need to be decommissioned safely
You can find a niche you prefer, such as working on the reactor, managing the processes or simply monitoring health and safety.
You can see it’s possible to find a position that fits all your interests.
Here is another position that’s all about what’s going on at a building site. Your responsibilities start as early on as leveling the site and you’ll handle quality control until the end.
You’ll become the pivotal person all others—such as the architect and sub-contractors—turn to for technical guidance. Everything on site will be your responsibility such as:
-Day to day logistics
-Keeping to the budget
There’s a huge focus on working with people because you’ll work with the team on site, as well as clients and the authorities.
If you love creating, you’ll find work satisfaction in being a structural engineer.
By using your expert knowledge of math and science, you’ll design new buildings. You find ways for them to adhere to safety regulations and handle stresses such as weather or ground conditions. You’ll use computer imagery to view your creations before they’re started.
And once again the career options are vast. Existing structures may need to be strengthened when they’ve deteriorated. A structural engineer is a perfect person to help make a plan.
Here’s proof that civil engineers impact all fields. Water engineers can handle projects focusing on:
-Flood damage prevention
Because of the risk water holds—it can damage or destroy—asset management can be part of your future role.
Going through the list, it seems civil engineers’ work is all about creating cities. But your skills can just as well be used to save nature.
The same skills you use to circumvent problems on a building site can be applied to solve pollution difficulties or improve public health.
Your skills as a civil engineer will be vast and impressive. Where will you use them?
Perhaps you’ve been doing civil engineering job for a while, but you know it’s time for a change. Luckily your skills and knowledge as a civil engineer can be valuable in other roles too. Search for civil engineering job offers in these areas, and find out what you need to make the transition:
-Consultant regarding the environment or sustainability
-Building service engineer
Are any of these what you’re looking for?
This is no easy career. The qualifications are challenging to obtain and the work carries a lot of responsibility. But when you see your plans and buildings become reality, the hard work is worth it. And you can decide in what sector you want to pursue this. Ready to make your dreams come true?